Is this a rubber bullet?

This is a photo, taken by a field worker for BTselem, of the xray made on Saturday in a Nablus hospital of the bullet lodged in the brain of a Palestinian teenager shot in his village of Iraq Burin, in the West Bank south of Nablus, on Saturday 20 March.  He died just before dawn this morning (Sunday).

BTselem photo of xray of bullet in skull of youth shot in Iraq Burin on 20 March - died 21 March in Nablus hospital

photo (of xray) taken by BTselem fieldworker Salma aDeb’i

Our earlier post on this shooting is here.

BTselem has indicated that it will ask the Army to conduct a criminal investigation. On Saturday, an Israeli military spokesperson said that the commander of the Shomron regional brigade, Itzik Yar, will carry out an internal investigation.

An email sent Sunday morning by the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee says that “Ussayed Jamal Abd el-Nasser Qaddous [in the xray, Osaid Abd Kaddous, 19] passed away at 4:30 am this morning despite doctors’ efforts to save his life.  According to eye witnesses Qaddous was shot with live ammunition as soldiers invaded his village after residents demonstrated to protest settler harassment and restrictions of access to their lands.  Mohammed Qaddous, 16, was killed in the same incident yesterday, after soldiers shot him in the chest.  Despite the Israeli military’s claims that live ammunition was not used during the incident yesterday, the version given by numerous civilian eye witnesses of unjust use of live ammunition is corroborated by medical findings.   An xray of Ussayed’s skull taken at the Rafidya hospital in Nublus shows what is clearly a live bullet lodged in his skull. In addition, Mohammed Qaddous’s body had an entry wound in the chest and an exit wound in the back.  Such an injury could not have possibly been cause by anything but live ammunition.  Less-lethal ammunition, rubber-coated bullets included, can, under no circumstances, cause such injuries, even if shot from point blank”.

Ussayed (19) and Mohammed (16) were cousins. Ussayed, a student at an-Najah University in Nablus, was shot first, and Mohammed was trying to carry him to safety when he, too was hit. Mohammed was pronounced dead on Saturday afternoon upon arrival at Rafidiyah hospital in Nablus.

The Popular Struggle Coordination Committee reported, in their email, that “demonstrators set out yesterday towards the village’s lands after midday prayer, and were immediately confronted by soldiers who shot bursts of live ammunition in the air. The Army then continued to shoot tear-gas and rubber bullets towards the villagers in an attempt to prevent them from reaching their lands. Following the unprovoked attack on the villagers, who were accompanied by 15 international activists, intermittent clashes ensued.  Roughly two hours later, the Army retreated towards the settlement and demonstrators went back to the village. Shortly after, armored military jeeps invaded the village, arrested three people and raided houses. A few minutes later, live shots were fired at a small group of young men, some of which were throwing stones. The shots resulted in one fatality and one critical injury to the head”.

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) said Sunday that its investigation revealed that Ussayed and Mohammed were not even among the group throwing stones — instead, they were returning to their village in a minivan from Nablus and arrived in the middle of the Israeli military incursion, without prior warning about what was happening. Soldiers were out of their vehicles, PCHR reports, but not far away. When the minivan driver saw burning tires in the street, which was blocked ahead, he stopped: “Mohammed Ibrahim Abdul Qader Qadous, 16, and Usaid [Ussayed] Abdul Naser Qadous, 20, stepped down from the minibus. As the driver turned around to travel back to Nablus, Israeli soldiers opened fire at Mohammed, who was wounded by a bullet to the heart, and Usaid [Ussayed] who was wounded by a bullet to the head. A number of young Palestinians who were in the scene transferred the two wounded persons to the minibus. After the minibus drove for approximately 20 meters, Israeli military jeeps tried to stop it, but the driver managed to escape and reach Nablus Specialized Hospital. Mohammed arrived dead to the hospital, while Usaid [Ussayed] underwent a prolonged surgery, but he was pronounced dead on Sunday morning, 21 March 2010. Usaid [Ussayed] was student at an-Najah National University in Nablus”.

Jonathan Pollack, of Anarchists against the Wall, told Ma’an News Agency that that “It’s very clear this isn’t a rubber bullet … The IDF uses two types of rubber bullets; one is shaped like a ball and the other is cylindrical … The object lodged in Useid’s skull is shaped like a prism, pointed at the end. It’s a bullet.” This report can be read in full here.

Reuters reported that “Hamid al-Masri, a doctor who treated Osaid [Ussayed or Usaid or Useid] Kaddous [Qaddous etc.], presented an X-ray which he said showed a metal bullet lodged in his brain”. This Reuters report is posted here.

The Jerusalem Post’s Defense Correspondent Yaakov Katz reported later that “Judea and Samaria Division commander Brig.-Gen. Nitzan Alon on Sunday told Israel Radio that while the IDF probe into the deaths of two Palestinian youths in a clash with security forces in the West Bank village of Burin was not yet complete, he was certain that live ammunition was not used. A preliminary IDF investigation suggested that Ussayed Qaddous, 19, and Muhammad Qaddous, 16, were seriously wounded by rubber bullets fired in an effort to disperse a crowd of stone-throwers … According to military procedures, rubber bullets are only used after stun grenades and tear gas fail to disperse a crowd, Alon stressed, adding that the preliminary investigation had ruled out the possibility that soldiers used regular bullets. But Pollak contended that Qaddous was indeed killed by live ammunition. ‘There is an entry wound and an exit wound in his torso, and no rubber bullet in the world can cause such an injury’, Pollak said [see photos below, click on “read more”] … B’tselem made an identical argument. A senior IDF officer on Sunday morning also claimed that the youths would not have been killed if live ammunition had not been used. ‘Rubber bullets are used to prevent serious casualties and fatalities’, the officer told Army Radio, adding that ‘only a violation of procedures would lead to such a deadly outcome’.” This JPost story can be read in full here.

It is very significant that the JPost report got this confirmation from “a senior IDF officer” that it seems live ammunition was used in Iraq Burin.

Though they were apparently not used in this case, rubber bullets, also, can be lethal. The BTselem human rights organization notes on its website that “The Israeli security forces’ arsenal of means to disperse demonstrations in the Occupied Territories includes the use of ‘rubber’ bullets. These bullets are, in fact, steel bullets with thin rubber coats. Their use to disperse demonstrations is based on security officials’ belief that “rubber” bullets are less lethal than live ammunition and that, therefore, they are appropriate for use in situations which are not life-threatening to security forces or other persons. The drafters of the Open-Fire Regulations, however, were aware of the danger inherent in the use of ‘rubber bullets’. The Regulations emphasize that ‘The means for dispersing the riot may cause bodily injury and in certain circumstances also death’. Because rubber-coated steel bullets are intended for use where soldiers or other persons are not in life-threatening situations, the Regulations stipulate several restrictions concerning their use. According to the defense establishment, these provisions prevent the bullet from causing serious or fatal injury. According to these rules, the minimum range for firing ‘rubber’ bullets is forty meters, and use is limited to specially trained personnel. The Regulations emphasize that the bullets must be fired only at the individual’s legs, and that they are not to be fired at children or from a moving vehicle. The permission to fire potentially lethal rubber-coated steel bullets at Palestinians to disperse ‘violent riots’ or demonstrations has led to the deaths of dozens of Palestinians. Viewing rubber-coated steel bullets as ‘less lethal’ than live ammunition leads one to possess a light trigger-finger. This phenomenon is only supported by the view of State Attorney’s Office that these deaths are ‘unavoidable mistakes’.” This can be viewed in full on the BTselem website here.

Haaretz reported that “The head of the local village council [in Iraq Burin], Abd al-Rahim Kadus, told Haaretz that every Saturday settlers come to the village, attack the locals and destroy property, leading to clashes with the Palestinians. Israeli troops usually intervene to break up the fighting, which then turns into a confrontation between young villagers and the soldiers. The Palestinians maintain that the two teenagers were hit by live ammunition and that the soldiers prevented Palestinian medical staff from evacuating them”. This Haaretz report is published here.

UPDATE: There are new reports of two more Palestinians shot dead on Sunday, near Nablus.  [This makes a total of four deaths in 24 hours.] Initial reports say the army said the two Palestinians tried to attack soldiers at a checkpoint, or steal their weapons… Ma’an News Agency is reporting that “Palestinian security sources identified the victims as 19-year-old farmers Muhammad Faysal and Salah Muhammad Qawariq. Both were from the Awarta village, southeast of Nablus, and were en route to farmland carrying agricultural tools and herbicide, the same sources said. Israel’s army said the two attempted to stab a soldier who was on a ‘routine patrol’ near the Awarta military checkpoint. ‘In response, forces opened fire and identified a direct hit’, an army spokeswoman told Ma’an … Red Crescent officials told Ma’an that the army informed them that two Palestinians were killed near the illegal Itamar settlement southeast of Nablus, asking them to come and evacuate the victims”. This Ma’an report is posted here.

The IDF spokepersons’ unit said in a statement that “During a routine patrol carried out by IDF forces southeast of Nablus, two Palestinians tried to stab a soldier. The forces opened fire in response, killing both terrorists. No soldiers were hurt and the circumstances of the incident are currently under investigation”.

YNet reported Sunday night — 12 hours after the two 19-year-olds were shot — that “the security establishment is looking into the possibility that one of the Palestinian teenagers who were killed near Nablus earlier in the day planned to attack the soldiers with a syringe containing an unidentified substance. The syringe, which was sent to a lab for tests, was found during a search of his belongings. The two Palestinians were shot as they approached a military checkpoint near the West Bank village of Awarta, southwest of Nablus. The two were said to be disguised [sic] as farmers. At a certain point, witnesses said, they began shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ and made threatening gestures towards the soldiers.  Fighters from the Nachshon Battalion of the Kfir Brigade shot the Palestinians to death. A military official said the two had the intention and means to harm the soldiers, who acted according to procedures. Palestinian sources in Nablus reported that the two were 19-year-old relatives Muhammad and Salah Kawarik from Awatra. According to the Palestinians, the two were holding agricultural equipment used as part of their work when they were shot to death by IDF soldiers. According to an initial IDF investigation, at some point one of the Palestinian teens pulled out a glass bottle filled with pebbles while the other held a syringe. A pitchfork and other tools were placed on the ground beside them”. This YNet report can be read in full here.

Reuters reported later that Palestinian government spokesperson Ghassan Khatib “called for an independent investigation into the killing of cousins Mohammed Qawariq and Saleh Qawariq on Sunday, citing witness accounts they had been shot only after being arrested“. The Reuters report is here.

The Stop The Wall campaign said in an email report received Sunday night that “Eyewitnesses from the houses overlooking the field the youth were crossing report that an Israeli occupation forces jeep approached the youth and stopped them. Additional military jeeps soon arrived at the spot. The youth were held for around seven minutes before the soldiers shot both youth from close range. Mohammad and Salah both died instantly. Later, a commander of the occupation forces approached the mayor of the village, Hassan Awwad, accusing one of the two youth of having tried to attack the soldiers. The mayor argues that knowing the two youth, given the circumstances and the fact that the two were already detained for some time before they were shot, the explanation of the IOF does not stand up in front of eyewitness testimonies, nor is it logical. He added that the inhabitants of Awarta have suffered for years from the assaults by settlers from Itamar settlement and by Israeli soldiers and thus have been avoiding clashes as much as possible”.

All four Palestinian teenagers were buried on Sunday.

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad has condemned these four deaths as “military escalation”, and called on the international community to intervene. A day earlier, Fayyad was showing UN Secretary-General BAN Ki-Moon around on a “brief” tour of some of the sights of the Israeli occupation — Jewish-only settlements on nearby hilltops, The Wall, and Ofer Prison and Military Courts complex — from a safe vantage point in Ramallah.

About three months ago, in December, three Fatah men were shot dead in Nablus by Israeli forces in pre-dawn raids after an Israeli settler was killed while driving on a road between two nearby Jewish settlements. BTselem demanded a “Military Police investigation into the circumstances of the killings of Ghassan Abu Sharakh, Nader a-Sarkaji, and ‘Anan Subuh in Nablus on 26 December 2009. B’Tselem further demanded that the Military Police investigate the soldiers’ violence against the families of the three men and the damage caused to their property” … BTselem said its own investigation “raises a grave suspicion that the soldiers acted unlawfully and, at least in the cases of Ghassan Abu Sharakh and Nader a-Sarkaji, made no attempt to arrest them before shooting them to death. This, in spite of the fact that the two had obeyed the order to exit their home, and were not carrying arms … B’Tselem says that the three Fatah activists were suspected by Israel of committing a serious offense, and stood to serve long sentences had they been convicted. However, as they were merely suspects, the army’s duty was to arrest them and bring them to trial. Israel denies that it carries out assassinations in the West Bank, yet B’Tselem’s investigation raise a grave suspicion that the soldiers acted as if they were on an assassination mission, not an arrest operation”.

Click below to view BTselem’s photographs of the entry and exit points of the bullet that killed Mohammed Qaddous — evidence, some say, that this was clearly not a rubber bullet. Reuters reported that “Ahmad Hammad, a Nablus doctor, showed a Reuters journalist a photograph of what he said was a bullet entry wound in Mohammed Kaddous’s chest and an exit wound in his back”. It was, moreover, one very precise and accurate shot, fired by an expert marksman, or sniper:

Continue reading Is this a rubber bullet?

217 "humanitarian" truckloads of goods to be passed into Gaza today

This is news. For months, the Israeli Ministry of Defense’s “Coordinator of [Israeli] Government Activities in the Territories” or COGAT, has been putting Gazans on a very strict “diet”. Only when a high-level American delegation was in town, or maybe Tony Blair, were there even 100 to a max of 112 or so truckloads worth of goods allowed into Gaza on a daily basis. Most days, the number was 66, 71, 88, or maybe 90 or so. Today, it is 217 truckloads worth of goods and materials! What is going on? Is it just in preparation for the big Eid coming up on the 27-28 of November?

Even so, there is a shortage of cooking gas, we are informed by Ma’an News Agency — so if foodstuffs are getting in, many people won’t have any way of cooking anything. Maybe today’s supplies are canned goods …

[As to this designation of the goods as “humanitarian” — well, it has to be made clear that these are not gifts donated by either the State or people of Israel. They might include donations by international organizations, or aid agencies, but for the most part they are goods ordered by the Palestinians (from Gaza, through Ramallah, to Israel) and paid for by the Palestinians themselves (by Gaza and/or by Ramallah). These are not Israeli humanitarian donations. The use of the word “humanitarian” refers to the Israeli Military’s way of implementing the Israeli Supreme Court decision that the tightened military-administered sanctions ordered by the Israeli government in September 2007 must not cause a “humanitarian crisis”. These goods, which are NOT donated by Israel, are the means by which a “humanitarian crisis” is being staved off — sometimes, by not much more than a hair. Some international officials have said, at various points, that a “humanitarian crisis” already exits. (The tunnels that Palestinian entrepreneurs have developed at the Egyptian border at Rafah, and in which over 100 young Palestinian workers have lost their lives, have played a possibly even bigger role in preventing a true humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza.)]

Other interesting news today: the Jerusalem Post’s well-connected military correspondent Yaakov Katz reports an IDF official scoffing at the idea of UN membership for a Palestinian State, endorsed by the UN Security Council (as the Europeans have encouraged some PA officials to imagine — and it might well work). Katz writes: ” ‘The Palestinian Water Authority wouldn’t last a day on its own’, an IDF source said. ‘We allocated them a piece of land on the coast to build a desalination plant and they have decided not to build it’.”

On the coast? Exactly where, and on what coast? He must mean in Gaza… So who would have refused to build it, and why? He must mean the PA in Ramallah. And if they refused, it must be because Hamas is in control in Gaza…

UPDATE: Yaakov Katz kindly responded to an email request by referring me to an article he published in the JPost on 4 August this year, in which he wrote that Lt.-Col. Amnon Cohen, head of the civil administration’s infrastructures department, told The Jerusalem Post … in an interview earlier this week [that] Israel recently allocated a piece of beach land next to Hadera for the Palestinians to use to build a water desalination plant, which, if operated, would provide over 100 million cubic meters of water annually. ‘The land was allocated over a year ago and the Palestinians have yet to move forward with the project’, he said. This JPost report can be read in full here.

Katz also writes, in his piece published today, about “security cooperation”, which, he reports, “has significantly increased over the past two years, since Hamas violently took control of the Gaza Strip. Next month, the fifth Palestinian battalion trained by US Lt.-Gen. Keith Dayton in Jordan will return to the West Bank for deployment. Another one will then depart for four months of training in Jordan. Despite the deployment of these forces – which IDF officers openly admit are doing a good job cracking down on Hamas infrastructure in the West Bank – whenever PA President Mahmoud Abbas travels outside of Ramallah to another Palestinian city, the IDF, Shin Bet and Civil Administration are all involved to coordinate and ensure his safety. ‘When Abbas travels it is like a military operation’, one officer explained. ‘Everyone is involved since the PA forces cannot yet completely ensure his security’.” Well, that’s for sure. And this is not only when Abu Mazen is outside Ramallah, but also when he is inside the PA’s current capital city. And, it was previously reported that the same type of “military operation” is mounted whenever the Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad moves around, as well…

Katz then gives an interesting insight into what is happening in the corridors “of the IDF’s Central Command and Planning Division”, in reaction to the flurry of reports in recent days about possible moves to have the UN Security Council endorse a Palestinian state (which he refers to as a “unilateral” declaration, actually another separate alternative): “The understanding in the defense establishment is that with all the hype surrounding the possibility that the Palestinians will unilaterally declare a state, it is more likely a ploy aimed at getting Israel to be serious about negotiations on the two-state solution. The idea is to get other countries to put pressure on Israel to start making real concessions – such as a freeze on settlement construction – so the talks can begin. While this may be true, the corridors of the IDF’s Central Command and Planning Division were buzzing with talk about the potential fallout, both diplomatically and militarily. If the Palestinians declare statehood, then Israel will likely come under major international pressure to take action to show it recognizes the new state. The government will then go knocking on the IDF’s door. Ultimately though, Israeli moves will be dictated by political decisions. Israel cannot order the IDF to completely pull back from the West Bank while settlers still live there. It can, on the other hand, lift more roadblocks and even allow the Palestinians in the interim to ‘have’ their new state in Area A parts of the West Bank which are already, for the most part, under Palestinian control”. This interesting article by Yaakov Katz in the Jerusalem Post can be read in full here.

An editorial in the JPost today reveals another interesting detail about the supposedly-secret “historic” and “unprecedented” offers that the Palestinians have received from Israel (but failed to accept, or even to respond to) in the past decade: “Successive Israeli governments have offered to recognize a Palestinian state in the West Bank and in Gaza. But Abbas rejected Ehud Olmert’s offer of 93 percent of the West Bank, plus additional lands from Israel proper to make up the difference, all of Gaza, and a free passage scheme between the Strip and West Bank. Under Olmert’s proposal, Israel would retain its strategic settlement blocs – but all other settlements and outposts on the ‘Palestine’ side of the border would be uprooted. Ehud Barak made slightly less generous offers to Yasser Arafat at Camp David in July 2000 and at Taba in January 2001. Barak, like Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in his June 2009 Bar-Ilan address, asked that Palestine be demilitarized”… This JPost editorial accuses the Palestinians of trying “to lobby the UN Security Council to, in effect, junk Resolution 242 – the edifice upon which the entire peacemaking process is constructed – and give its imprimatur to a new Palestinian declaration of independence claiming 100 percent of the West Bank and Gaza (though the Strip is under Hamas suzerainty) plus all of east Jerusalem including the Jewish holy sites”. It can be read in full here.

What, exactly, are the “strategic settlement blocs”???

On Salam Fayyad, an interesting item (though not new), the Jewish Center for Public Affairs (JCPA) has done its SECOND study of his transition plan for developing the institutions of a Palestinian state by the year 2011, by former Foreign Ministry legal adviser Alan Baker, which is posted here. In it, Baker reports (though we knew it already) that “Interestingly enough, one of the elements of the Palestinian leadership that does not appear in the [Oslo Accords] Interim Agreement is the Office of the Prime Minister, i.e., Salam Fayyad’s own function, which was not foreseen. See article III of the Interim Agreement which deals with the structure of the Palestinian Council, and article V which refers in subparagraph 4 (b) and (c) to the appointment of members of the Executive Authority and others, but makes no mention of a “prime minister” as such. The post was created with Israeli concurrence in March 2003 immediately prior to the publication of the Roadmap, when Abbas was appointed prime minister under the presidency of Yasser Arafat. Neither he nor his successors as prime minister have ever been elected to this post …”. Baker also writes that “The Roadmap goes on to lay down, as part of its first phase, a program for ‘Palestinian Institution Building’ which includes a specific reference to the newly-created office of ‘Interim Prime Minister’.”

This suggests what we already knew — that, in fact, the office of Palestinian Prime Minister (first occupied by Mahmoud Abbas, then later by Salam Fayyad) was actually created by the Quartet (more specifically, by the Quartet’s leading member, the U.S.) rather than by the Oslo “bilateral” negotiations directly between the two parties themselves. But, as Baker significantly notes, “The post was created with Israeli concurrence”…

(We’ll write more on the Baker (and JCPA) analysis of the Fayyad plan in a future posting.)

And, the JPost reported today that “IDF soldiers arrested seven Palestinians in West Bank operations overnight Sunday.
The detainees were transferred for interrogation”. This news is posted here.

BTW, I was wrong yesterday to write that the JPost and Ma’an News Agency are the only two media sources reporting this stuff — Ma’an has stopped, and is not even bothering anymore…

How Palestinian Authority politics work

Basem (Correction from comment below: Bassim) Khoury won a lot of admiration and respect when he reportedly resigned, at the beginning of October, in protest of the (later reversed) Palestinian decision to withdraw support from a resolution they (the Palestinians) had been drafting in the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva in support of the Goldstone report on last winter’s Gaza war. At that time, the Palestinian leadership agreed to another resolution, which was adopted, postponing consideration of the Goldstone report until March 2010.

Then, Bassim Khoury (a successful businessman who heads a Ramallah-based pharmaceutical company, and a good-looking nice guy who regularly brings flowers to his wife) refused to confirm these reports when contacted by various media.

Continue reading How Palestinian Authority politics work

On the separation of powers in Ramallah

Excerpts from an interview with Yasser Abbas (son of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas) in his office in Ramallah, 18 December 2008:

Previous excerpts:
Part 3: Business and Businessmen in Palestine
Part 2: Fatah and Hamas – what’s the problem?
Part 1: Fatah and Hamas – and the Abbas family house in Gaza

Marian Houk (Question): Can I ask you, what do you know about the relations between your father, the President, and his Prime Minister (Salam Fayyad)? Is it true they’re not speaking to each other at the moment, or they’re fighting?

Yasser Abbas (Answer): That’s absolutely not true. That’s absolutely not true. They have a very good relationship. Every now and then the President says, “this is MY Prime Minister”, and “this is MY Cabinet, I’m the one that appointed it”. Eventually, they might have differences. Definitely, they might have differences in dealing with things. But I know, I know from the President’s point of view, he gives the authority to the Prime Minister to deal in the Ministry, in the internal issues, the way he sees fit. He comes back to him with difficulties, with problems, with things that really he cannot really decide on as a Prime Minister, he needs the President’s decision, and he gives him his honest opinion. I believe that the President, our President, has confidence in this Prime Minister. So none of what you said is true.

(X): Can I just add one thing about this, Marian? President Abbas is not like Yasser Arafat – he never takes any professional differences personally.  So, this is really amazing.  I don’t know where you heard this from, but it’s a ridiculous, silly…

Marian Houk: You know it’s published in the media.

(X): Even if it’s published in the media, it’s really silly.

Yasser Abbas: Ok, if they have a small difference with each other, people make it…

(X): “They don’t talk to each other”… Yaeni [I mean], we’re not in a kindergarten, at the end of the day.  And, it’s really weird…

Mahmoud Abbas casts ballot in Fatah elections in Bethlehem - his son Yasser Abbas stands behind to the left in the photo - 9 Aug 09

Photo from the Ma’an News agency website – Mahmoud Abbas puts the ballot it took him 20 minutes to complete (because of the long list of names of candidates) into a Fatah ballot box during the 6th Fatah General Conference in Bethlehem in August.
His son, Yasser Abbas, stands behind and to the left in the photo.

Marian Houk (Question): Is it true that your father deals with the negotiations and leaves all the running of the government machinery to the Prime Minister?

Yasser Abbas (Answer): Well, the majority of it, yes. This is how it goes. This is how it is supposed to go. Because if the President has to start putting his nose in any Ministry’s work, then the Prime Minister will be there, doing nothing. And the President will, his job will be, day and night, how’s this Ministry doing? How’s that Ministry doing? But he meets with the Cabinet eventually, like once every God knows, I don’t know, how many sessions they are meeting, he goes and meets with them. And he interferes on a part-time basis, because that’s his job. His job is to appoint a Prime Minister that he really trusts, that the Prime Minister is in full charge of the running of the internal issues of the ministries. That’s why Salam Fayyad, our Prime Minister, Dr. Salam, he does not get himself involved in negotiations, eventually, because this is the PLO job, it’s not the Authority’s job. And the way I see it today, it’s a very clear relationship between the President and the Prime Minister, and if anybody looks at it really under a microscope, he will understand how things are run. Salam Fayyad, and the Ministries, and the Cabinet, have nothing to do with the Israelis in terms of the final status negotiations, and this is the way it should be.

Q: Can I just ask you, who has responsibility for decisions about security now – is it the President, or the Prime Minister?

A: I think the higher decision is the President, implemented partially by the Prime Minister, because the Prime Minister, according to the by-laws, has the control over the Police, the fire-fighting, and the Preventive Security, I believe. The Secret Service, the National Guard, and the rest, and the Presidential Guard, are by the President. And yet, they are in agreement that one way or another, in any way, we have to have security all around the West Bank. It’s very simple, loud and clear. So he takes the orders from the President, he implements them, he believes in them. The Prime Minister believes in all the instructions that he gets from the President – so they are in agreement on those terms.


Netanyahu presses demand for Palestinian recognition of Israel as state of the Jewish people – Fayyad says Jews can stay without discrimination in a future Palestine

It is a slightly but significantly different formulation from the demand that Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish State.

As Israel’s Prime Minister clarified just days after his recent policy speech at Bar Ilan University (billed as his answer to U.S. President Barack Obama’s address to the Muslim world from Cairo University on 4 June), he is now asking — as he did again today at the weekly Cabinet meeting — for Palestinians to “recognize the State of Israel as the state of the Jewish People”.

Continue reading Netanyahu presses demand for Palestinian recognition of Israel as state of the Jewish people – Fayyad says Jews can stay without discrimination in a future Palestine

A winning formula – withhold salaries in the West Bank to pay for damaged homes in Gaza?

There’s something unclear here.

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad has generously offered — or maybe even actually sent — millions of dollars or shekels or whatever to Gaza to “compensate” people whose homes have been damaged or destroyed in the recent 22-day IDF Operation Cast Lead, designed to stop rocket firing from Gaza onto Israel.

But, the border crossings are closed into Gaza — pending the successful outcome of Egyptian-led negotiations with Israel — so no reconstruction materials are allowed into Gaza. The tunnels, of course, are still operating, despite regular IDF and sometimes even Egyptian attacks — making them a very risky business.

The crossings will not be opened (or, will not be fully opened, depending on the report) until the successful conclusion of Egyptian-led negotiations between Israel (whose Prime Minister staunchly denies negotiating with Hamas) and Hamas. Prime Minister Olmert has now said that the crossings will not be opened (or, fully opened), until the release of IDF Corporal Gilad Shalit, who was captured just outside the Gaza border in June 2006 and who is believed to be still held somewhere in Gaza.
Continue reading A winning formula – withhold salaries in the West Bank to pay for damaged homes in Gaza?

George Mitchell met Palestinian PM Fayyad in Jerusalem

The U.S. State Department spokesman announced in today’s regular daily briefing in Washington that U.S. Special Envoy for the Middle East, George Mitchell, met Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad in Jerusalem.

This meeting could have happened at the U.S. Consulate in East or West Jerusalem, of course …
Rice had some meetings at the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem once with Fayyad. The U.S. Consulate in East Jerusalem is almost next door to where some of Fayyad’s children went or are still going to school, at St. George’s Anglican Cathedral.

But Fayyad himself is also a resident of (East) Jerusalem, living in Beit Hanina … which may or may not be part of the package deal (or, shall we say, part of one of the package deals) that outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is reported to have put on the table for the “sharing” of Jerusalem …

Here are some excerpts about what was said at the State Department briefings today (and yesterday):

QUESTION: Senator Mitchell’s trip – do you have anything to say about —

MR. WOOD: Yeah, let me give you the latest readout that I have. Senator Mitchell was in Jerusalem this morning. He had productive meetings with Mossad Director Meir Dagan, Israeli Security Agency Director Yuval Diskin, Israeli Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gaby Ashkenazi, and our Consul General Jacob Walles. Senator Mitchell arrived in Ramallah in the afternoon and met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. He will be – he is scheduled to return to Jerusalem later in the day and meet with Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. Tomorrow, he is scheduled to meet with —

QUESTION: I’m sorry, he’s meeting with Fayyad in Jerusalem?

MR. WOOD: It says here he is – he is scheduled to return to Jerusalem late in the day and meet with Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. That’s what I have.
Continue reading George Mitchell met Palestinian PM Fayyad in Jerusalem